Today, I assigned my first detention.
Yesterday I attended a writing workshop on how to teach expository and persuasive essays for the state standardized test, so I had a sub. I screwed up and unknowingly left the sub with the wrong copies. She passed it out and pushed the kids to do it, despite the fact that they recognized the difficulty in grading 8 student essays on how well they answered the prompt when I gave them the wrong prompt. In turn, they were told to finish it as homework. There was backtalk. There was frustration. There was also a random kid in the back who decided to put stickers all over a desk. (Seriously, I teach sophomores).
So today I apologized to them for leaving the wrong work, explained that even when an adult is wrong they are not allowed to talk back to her, even when they are in the right, and assigned my sticker boy (also known as my whistler) a detention. When kids came in all day and sat at that desk and asked if they could peel the stickers off for me, I said no thank you, John will be doing it in detention after school. I even got to email the coach to tell him why his player would be late for practice. It was a nice deterrent; it took John a whopping 8 minutes to take the stickers off so he wasn’t even really late for practice (I would have lectured him longer but I had a coffee date with a friend), but he was duly chastised and, added bonus, my kids were totally freaked out. “You give detentions, miss?” “If you deserve it I do.”
After a rather crazy last few weeks of rather unsuccessful classroom management, it was nice to feel like I got a little bit of a leg up, if only a baby step. My next door teacher is in her second full year of teaching, and assures me that while her first year she was the “cool” teacher, she is now the “mean” teacher. In fact, I’ll threaten my kids on occasion with that – “Do you want me to be mean like Miss Johnson next door?” They cower at that – apparently her reputation precedes her. Or she just doesn’t wear Green Bay Packer cheeseheads on Halloween, which I discovered lowers your credibility significantly. Anyway, she knows they think she’s mean, and believes strongly that it’s an improvement for getting work done. I very much look forward to next year when I’ll have learned to be the “mean” teacher too, and kids stop leaving stickers on my desk, talking back to subs, and start doing work. I mean, that’s all it takes, right? Being mean? And suddenly they shape up?
Yeah…daydreaming is as fun for teachers as it is for students…